Thursday, May 28, 2009

Training Fruit Trees

As soon as trees are planted training should begin to get the shape you want. Commercial growers usually get whips and then head them back to whatever point they want their first limbs to start. Many fruit trees have a very upright growth habit (Picture 1). The narrow crotch angles caused by this upright growth results in a weak limb and will usually break under a crop load.

In order to prevent narrow crotch angles the limbs should be spread as soon as possible. Spreading can be accomplished by placing a clothes pin just above the limb so that it is almost horizontal (Picture 2). The plastic clothes pins are recommended since they are more durable. Limbs can also be spread by propping a toothpick between the limb and trunk.

Notice that I did not spread the top limb. This will be a central leader tree and that limb will eventually become my main trunk. You need to eliminate any limbs that will not become part of your eventual structure.

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